Banyan Tree Bangkok = Excellent Hotel but Platinum Benefits Could be Better

100   Recommended

1-Bdr Suite
April 11, 2019 by
Share
Save
Liked:
Location
 
Service
 
Food
 
Amenities
 
Room
 

{{ oRightNav.heading }}


Save

Share

1-Bdr Suite

Liked:
Location
Service
Food
Amenities
Room

Stats
Room
1-Bdr Suite

I have been roughly 20 different hotels in Bangkok in the last few years and unlike some cities where I have a go-to place because almost everything is perfect, I find that most hotels in Bangkok have strengths and weaknesses so I move around and enjoy the positives of each hotel depending on the nature of my trip and depending on what I am looking for.  I also like to try new properties once in a while.  Most of my stays are with Marriott/Starwood, Hyatt, and Hilton chains, but to expand my horizons I wanted to try new Accor properties beyond the limited ones I have tried before, in part to assess the value of Accor Platinum status.  Reviews of Sofitel SO have been mixed so I thought I would try Banyan Tree instead. As explained below my conclusion is that Banyan Tree has some good, some not so good, consequently I won’t become a frequent guest but this hotel can nonetheless be suitable for people without elite status so I can partially recommend it.  

Location

I personally do not mind the exact location of where I stay in Bangkok, but for the benefit of potential first-timers I should mention that the location of Banyan Tree (which is nearby Sofitel SO) is not ideal in my opinion because it’s not very close to a BTS station nor is it a riverside hotel.  

Check In

Arrival and check-in was pleasant and efficient.  Upon getting off the taxi we received a flower bracelet which was nice and made me feel like we just arrived in an exotic resort destination rather than a city.  We were invited to sit down near reception for check-in and then subsequently to the lounge for check-in.  We were then escorted to our room and luggage was already there. 

Room

I booked a one-bedroom suite which automatically comes with lounge access and I did not get a Platinum upgrade despite availability for other room types because this hotel upgrades Platinum members only one category, but no higher than the one-bedroom suite.  So if you book the Horizon room type, you get the Oasis room type, if you book Oasis you get Serenity Club, and if you book Serenity Club you get the 1-bdr suite (all subject to availability of course).  Having not seen the rooms I suspect Horizon, Oasis, and Serenity Club are probably similar except perhaps views and the fact that Serenity Club includes lounge access.  Platinum guests have access to the club regardless of room booked.  If you book the basic room you will get a marginally better room and most of the Platinum value will be via lounge access, and if you book the Serenity Club room you pay for club which you would have access to regardless, and are gambling that a 1-bdr suite will be available at check-in. Personally I would not be too keen on doing that.  Several competitors will upgrade elite guests to premium suites when the member books the entry level suite so my key takeaway is that Banyan Tree offers subpar value for the money for Platinum guests relative to other hotels.  The positive side is that at least Plats get free lounge access which is better than Fairmont hotels where you don’t, but if you book the basic room you know for sure you are not getting a suite, which is inferior to competitors who frequently upgrade elite members to suites even when booking the entry level room, particularly Hyatt and Marriott.

Anyway, I knew all of that before booking and it was explained to me by the hotel by e-mail in advance, so there was no disappointment and it did not stop me from trying Banyan Tree.  I was generally pleased with the room.  The 1-bdr suite is built to a high standard and it is hard to find major faults to this room.  Off the entrance is the living area, separated from the bedroom by a thick sliding door.  The bathroom is very large and has two enclosures in each corner, one for the toilet and one for the shower which has a frosted glass window inside which allows good natural lighting.  Generally speaking the room was very comfortable, particularly the bed was great and air conditioning was strong so we had great sleep.  I was not familiar with the brand of the bathroom toiletries – they seemed to be a local Thai brand specifically designed for Banyan Tree, but I liked the scent.  

If I could point out a few minor weaknesses it would be that the TV in the bedroom is too small for a room of that size.  I did not care because I rarely watch TV but other guests might find it less than ideal.  Also, I would note that many suites in several hotels in Bangkok have 1.5 bath rather than only one, in fact some even have two full bathrooms for example Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit.   So the suite at Banyan Tree is inferior in that regard.  Also this being an older hotel the ceilings were a bit low particularly in the bathroom and they are in need of being replastered.  

IMG_2935.jpegIMG_2936.jpegIMG_2937.jpegIMG_2938.jpegIMG_2939.jpegIMG_2940.jpegIMG_2941.jpeg

Dining

For happy hour in the lounge 5:30pm-7:3pm I was not quite sure what to expect since it was my first stay in any Banyan Tree hotel brand.  Unfortunately I was not impressed.  I do not know if the fact that joining Accor means a lot more guests are allowed in the lounge than in the past, but I found the atmosphere rather unpleasant.  It was quite crowded and lots of guests were loud, in fact louder than other hotels I have been to.  Perhaps it’s because the hotel attracts more tourists and vacationers than business people relative to other hotels I have visited which have a more balanced mix, or perhaps it was the free flow beer all day (more on that below) which affected some customers’ behavior.  Also the table setup in the lounge area close to the kitchen is such that other folks are somewhat close to you and it does not feel upscale or exclusive in any way, like many Fairmont lounges are.  The lounge having very low ceilings did not help the feeling of being in a cafeteria.  It was more quiet if you sat away from the kitchen as tables were more spaced out.

IMG_2942.jpegIMG_2951.jpegIMG_2955.jpeg

Food offerings were ok but nothing to write home about; if you compare to other hotels in Bangkok I would say Banyan Tree is in the bottom quartile of lounges I visited.  They only had some bite-size appetizers and only two pots with hot food; even there it was not very impressive for example one day they had chicken skewers in both pots, so it was not really a choice of two that day.   Some other lounges in Bangkok have such an impressive buffet that it can easily be a dinner; it is not the case at Banyan Tree.  Drinks were also inferior: only one choice of white and red wine, although there was sparkling wine which not all hotels offer.  

IMG_2952.jpegIMG_2953.jpegIMG_2954.jpeg

While happy hour was weak in the lounge, it was the opposite for breakfast.  In many hotels you need to compromise between a quiet place for breakfast in the lounge but with limited food, or a great spread in the restaurant but a more busy and sometimes chaotic place.  At Banyan Tree Bangkok you do not need to make this compromise because what’s available in the lounge is roughly the same as in the Bomsai restaurant, which makes for a great lounge breakfast and in fact the most impressive lounge breakfast I have seen in Bangkok: there is a noodle station, several choices of sushi, they have Indian curry, Thai curry, fried rice, a spicy dish of fish, traditional Western options, etc.  The lounge is perfectly set up to handle more than a dozen hot dishes, which makes it even more surprising that they do not use that area (in the back) for happy hour.

IMG_2961.jpegIMG_2962.jpeg

The only negative about breakfast is that for similar reasons as my comments about happy hour, perhaps the lounge is not as quiet as some other lounges in Bangkok (for example my favorite lounge, Athenee hotel), but the huge spread makes up for it.  The only advantage I saw of going to the restaurant is that breakfast starts at 6am there, whereas it’s 7am in the lounge so the restaurant is more useful if you are an early bird.  

If we compare breakfast in the restaurant to competitors’ breakfast in the restaurant, then Banyan Tree does not fare as well.  In terms of quality I would say breakfast is above average but not top tier.  There were a few minor missing features that the discerning eye could notice to make it just a bit below others, for example for specialty / local fruits they had pomelo and passion fruit but no mangoes. The chicken in the curry was not top quality white meat.  The fried rice was vegetarian compared to other hotels which can have more protein varieties, such as crab fried rice.  Some hotels have Prosecco included in breakfast, but not Banyan Tree.  So all in all a very good breakfast, just not elite. 

IMG_2985.jpegIMG_2986.jpegIMG_2987.jpeg

We received a Platinum drink voucher at check-in.  Unfortunately the Platinum drink voucher is not valid at the famous rooftop Moon Bar on the 61th floor.  Thumbs down – I know drinks are very expensive at Moon Bar, but it could be interpreted as a stingy move on the hotel’s part.  I guess they want to preserve the exclusivity of that place which is popular even with many non-hotel guests.  You have to use your voucher at the Saffron Garden Bar instead. At the other end of the drinking generosity spectrum, as alluded to above you can get free beer in the lounge from 10am to 8pm – the complete opposite of being stingy.  Some guests took full advantage of their drinking times, so it seemed.

To finish off on the lounge, there is also afternoon tea 12pm – 4pm.  They had a choice of sandwiches and desserts in addition to a few other snacks. 

IMG_3006.jpeg 

Miscellaneous

The hotel also gives other freebies.  In addition to the arrival flower bracelet, we received a few additional gifts or souvenirs during our stay for example a decorative turtle and a beautiful Thai bookmark.  The hotel also offers 2 free pieces of laundry per day which is great when on a long trip.  

IMG_3005.jpeg

Overall

Overall I would say the hotel is decent but Bangkok has lots of excellent hotels and competition is fierce.  The lack of room upgrade (or very modest) for Platinum guests and the relatively unpleasant lounge situation during happy hour means I am not very likely to come back in the immediate future.  Alternatives in other hotel chains are not perfect either but in the balance of things many of them remain better in my humble opinion so people with elite status in multiple hotel chains should not rush to Banyan Tree except for the purpose of mixing things up and to experience something different once in a while.  However that does not take away from Banyan Tree having some strengths as outlined in my review.  The hotel is possibly best suited for guests without elite status in my opinion, or for Accor loyalists who need to earn Accor night credits, in that case it’s also a good choice but temper your expectations regarding Platinum treatment.

23 Comments

This review lives in the Banyan Tree Bangkok thread.
23 comments and Y review

Hotels you may also be interested in